The Air Force Research Laboratory (ARL) has just published a never before seen video of the Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie, an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), which completed its first flight on March 5, 2019, at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
According to a statement published by the US Air Force, the inaugural test flight of the XQ-58A was a joint effort within ARL's Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology portfolio, which has been instructed by the Air Force to provide the service with supersonic stealth drones at an affordable cost. These objectives are met by designing and manufacturing drones faster by developing innovative tools, and maturing and leveraging commercial manufacturing processes to reduce build time and cost.
Tuesday's first test flight is an important step forward for the experimental "loyal wingman" concept that can escort fifth-generation fighters, like the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, into combat, conduct surveillance missions, and even absorb enemy fire.
Developed for runway independence, the XQ-58A "behaved as expected and completed 76 minutes of flight time," said the Air Force statement.
ARL and Kratos spent 2.5 years from contract award to develop the XQ-58A. The statement said the stealth drone would have five planned test flights in two phases that evaluate the functionality, aerodynamic performance, and launch and recovery systems.
Doug Szczublewski, AFRL’s XQ-58A Program Manager said, “XQ-58A is the first example of a class of UAV that is defined by low procurement and operating costs while providing game-changing combat capability.”
XQ-58A will have an impressive range of about 3,000 miles. It can carry a payload of 600 lb., including small-diameter bombs and missiles.